AMBITIOUS plans to reopen South Yorkshire’s only airport - backed by Barnsley Council’s leader and several of the town’s MPs due to its ‘significance’ - are set to receive approval next week after a 15-month closure.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport closed in 2022 after its owner, Peel Group, decided it was no longer financially viable.

Since then, South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard and leaders of the four councils in the region approved a funding package to support the reopening of the airport.

A South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) meeting will be held on Wednesday where it’s anticipated £138m will make its way to the airport and developing the surrounding area, known as ‘Gateway East’.

The Chronicle understands that the SYMCA board - which includes council leader Sir Steve Houghton - will be asked to approve the recommendation to work up a full business case which could be completed as soon as the spring.

If this happens and a suitable operator is found, the airport’s path to reopening would be a formality.

Mr Coppard said: “Since Peel announced their intentions to close our airport, I’ve been working alongside partners from across the region to first keep it open, and now to bring it back into use.

South Yorkshire’s Mayor, Oliver Coppard, said: “These proposals represent a major step towards reopening our airport and delivering a ten-year plan for Gateway East.

“This is part of our plan for growth across our whole region, delivering long-term benefits for the whole of South Yorkshire, with a thriving regional airport at its heart.

“Getting to this point has not been easy - I’ve always said reopening our airport would take time and huge amounts of hard work.

“But the plans we are putting forward at next week’s meeting are a significant step in the process of reopening DSA.

“No ambitious plan is without risks but alongside the other leaders in South Yorkshire, I believe the economic case is compelling.

“That cannot mean a blank cheque or a bad deal, so we are rightly following a process that is underpinned by robust governance.

“We’ve seen in other parts of the country what can go wrong if we don’t put transparency, accountability and the interests of taxpayers at the forefront of our thinking.

“I’m determined to get a good deal for our community, to do this work properly no matter the hurdles, so we can deliver a long-term plan for our airport.

“That’s exactly what this next step allows us to do.”

Research carried out as part of the region’s response to Peel Group’s review into the viability of the airport found that DSA supported about 2,700 jobs and contributed more than £100m to the regional economy when it was operational.

Peel called a shortfall in passenger numbers a ‘fundamental issue’ in its closure and also cited the decrease in the number of Wizz Air flights operating from the site.

However, reopening plans have been backed by Sir Steve and Barnsley MPs Dan Jarvis, Stephanie Peacock and John Healey.

Sir Steve, who is the chairman of the SYMCA board, added: “It is a key part of our strategic plan to grow the economy and create more and better jobs for local people.

“The aviation industry has suffered in recent years due to the changes brought about by Brexit and the continuing impact of Covid-19.

“However, we are committed to not only finding a means to save DSA but to establish it as a thriving airport at the forefront of South Yorkshire’s future.”

Dan, who represents the Barnsley Central constituency and is also Mr Coppard’s predecessor, said the airport was a ‘nationally significant’ one.

“DSA is a strategically vital asset for our region and the wider north it’s a crucial piece of our economic and transport framework,” he said.

“The inaction from government, both now and over the past few years, suggests they are willing to allow the loss of such an important part of our national aviation infrastructure.

“DSA might be a regional airport, but it is nationally significant and government should be working much harder to safeguard it.”